Disabled Parenting Challenges


Disability, Parenting / Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Proud Daddy sad Daddy

Living now almost 25 years with one-arm has presented some obvious physical challenges, but I was completely unprepared for some of the emotional challenges experienced after the birth of our Son Olly in November. (He is now just over two months old.)

The main obvious concern when handling an Infant with one-arm is safety, when picking up, holding and putting down. This I thought I was 100% prepared 20150103_190134_2for. The physical task itself is fine, I am strong and dextrous and managed to approach the task with some confidence.

Where things took an unexpected turn was just how limited I would be when holding baby Olly once he was up on my chest and shoulder. It might seem a little dumb to state it, but once a one-armed man has his baby safely up on his chest he isn’t able to easily & safely reposition him.

  • I could jiggle him up/sideways a little but anything else required sitting down & starting again.
  • What I found as Olly matured quickly from 4 weeks old to 8 weeks, was he started to get restless much quicker when bound to that carrying position I had developed.

This changed a physical disability to a mental health issue.

old Dog new Tricks

The mistake I made once I realised this, was keeping quiet about it. I simply put Olly into the pram and rocked him back and forth instead, or things of that nature. Over this past week I enjoyed another break from work, as my Mum was holidaying over with us from New Zealand, meeting the little one for the first time and spending some precious quality time together.

What this exposed to me was my awareness of these carrying changes, and that just because I now had time off work, I didn’t necessarily get to enjoy any more quality time together. It became a slow torture, worsened by the fact I got to see little Olly playfully being bounced in my Wife’s lap or being cuddled by Nana…things of that nature. I became a stranger to one-on-one fun with him other than the more distant experiences from the play-mat or approaching him when he was held by somebody else.[intense_spacer height=”40″]

Now I would argue (with myself) that the cause of this isn’t my disability, it’s actually caused by my reaction to these particular events. The confronting thing is, just because you have lived a quarter Century with a disability, it doesn’t mean it cannot smack you upside the head with a new lesson when it feels appropriate.

Because I also live with Chronic Pain and it’s associated exhaustion and other factors, it is so less easier to roll with the punches. Only upon my return to work this morning did I really acknowledge just how bad things had got. I know deep-down that it will get much easier as he grows and get stronger, but that doesn’t necessarily help any current emotional scarring I may have developed.

Time will tell.